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The acknowledgement of the components of the offender’s personality by criminal law





The study of the offender’s personality falls first within the field of behavioral sciences, such as psychology, psychiatry, criminology or even philosophy. However, through the social defense movement, the criminal law field got more and more interested in the study. In criminal law, the offender is not seen as an abstract object anymore but is placed at the same level as the gravity of the offense considered. To do so, an in-depth knowledge of the personality is necessary, which has led to a close collaboration between criminal law and behavioral sciences. This study on the offender’s personality shows that contemporary criminal law is based on components of the personality. They are decisive to determine criminal responsibility and the criminal justice response to the offense. In practice, the use of the offender’s personality reflects the importance attached to it by lawmakers. For instance, at the instruction stage, a file on personality is made. This file is often used for the judgment and the determination of the sentence. However, some doubt remains regarding the means granted by the justice system to assess the offender’s personality. Regarding the components of the personality taken into account, they change throughout the criminal proceedings. They are grasped differently and by different people. It is clear that the components of the personality affect both the determination of criminal responsibility and the criminal justice response. First, it appears that the conditions governing criminal liability are affected by the offender’s personality whose file on personality is decisive. Those conditions governing criminal liability have been reviewed, which helped redefine the notion of guilt and the notion of imputability using the components of the offender’s personality. The two notions are also used for the legal entity, but it is established that the offender’s personality, as understood here, cannot be applied to it. Second, the study focuses on the criminal justice response to the offence committed. This stage is really important regarding the offender’s personality because the criminal justice response must adapt either to the gravity of the offense or to the offender’s personality. It is for the prosecutors and the judges to apply this principle of the individualization of the criminal justice response.

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